U.P. and down: Laker women split road trip

GVL / Emily Frye
#22 Junior Brionna Barnett

GVL / Emily Frye #22 Junior Brionna Barnett

Nick DeMaagd

The best way to describe Grand Valley State’s win at Northern Michigan is “clutch.”

After winning two straight at home, the GVSU women’s basketball team hit the road hoping to continue its win streak on Thursday in Marquette, Mich. Although the Lakers had a 14-point lead at halftime, they found themselves trailing in the final five minutes of the game.

Sealing the win came down to running a tight offense — and leading the charge were juniors Brionna Barnett and Jammie Botruff.

After Barnett sank a game-tying jumper that made it 58-58 with 4:23 remaining and NMU failed to make a layup, Botruff drained a go-ahead 3-pointer to put GVSU up 61-58. NMU made it a one-point game shortly thereafter, but Barnett knocked down another jumper to put the Laker lead back at three.

A 3-pointer from sophomore guard Taylor Lutz proved to be the dagger with 1:37 left to play, and sophomore forward Piper Tucker closed the game out with a pair of free throws in the final 22 seconds of regulation, giving the Lakers a 68-61 victory.

“We did what we had to,” said GVSU coach Janel Burgess. “We took the open shots when they appeared and that’s what made the difference.”

The bliss of winning wouldn’t last for long however, as the team would fall to No. 23 Michigan Tech in a hard-fought battle on Saturday despite a 19-point performance from Barnett.

At the buzzer the final score was 62-51.

Individually, GVSU had a trio of impressive performances from Barnett, senior Kat LaPrairie (13 points, four rebounds) and sophomore forward Kayla Dawson (10 points, five rebounds).

Meanwhile, all five Michigan Tech starters tallied eight or more points.

“Defensively, we need to control the ball and make more shots when we’re on offense,” Dawson said.

A rematch is on the near horizon as the Lakers will duke it out at Fieldhouse Arena against NMU and Michigan Tech in early February. The rematch isn’t of much concern to the team and Burgess however, as there are five games on the schedule before they meet again.

“The other games are just as important,” Burgess said. “I think being a team and moving the ball around offensively is what we’ll be focusing on now.”

Both games were close for the Lakers, but their overall record is now 10-4, 7-3 in the GLIAC.

The team looks to refocus as it prepares for its third straight opponent from the Upper Peninsula this week. GVSU hosts the Lakers of Lake Superior State on Thursday at 6 p.m.

“It’s the little things,” Barnett said. “And playing well as a team.”